Jouy, Victor Joseph Etienne De

JOUY, VICTOR JOSEPH ETIENNE DE (1764-1846), French dramatist, was born at Jouy, near Versailles, on the 12th of September 1764. At the age of eighteen he received a commission in the army, and sailed for South America in the company of the governor of Guiana. He returned almost immediately to France to complete his studies, and re-entered the service two years later. He was sent to India, where he met with many romantic adventures which were afterwards turned to literary account. On the outbreak of the Revolution he returned to France and served with distinction in the early campaigns, attaining the rank of adjutant-general. He drew suspicion on himself, however, by refusing to honour the toast of Marat, and had to fly for his life. At the fall of the Terror he resumed his commission but again fell under suspicion, being accused of treasonable correspondence with the English envoy, James Harris, 1st earl of Malmesbury who had been sent to France to negotiate terms of peace. He was acquitted of this charge, but, weary of repeated attacks, resigned his position on the pretext of his numerous wounds. Jouy now turned his attention to literature, and produced in 1807 with immense success his opera La vestale (music by Spontini). The piece ran for a hundred nights, and was characterized by the Institute of France as the best lyric drama of the day. Other operas followed, but none obtained so great a success. He published in the Gazelle de France a series of satirical sketches of Parisian life, collected under the title of L'Ermite de la Chaussee d'Antin, ou observations sur les mceurs et les usages franqais au commencement du xix' siecle (1812-1814, 5 vols.), which was warmly received. In 1821 his tragedy of Sylla gained a triumph due in part to the genius of Talma, who had studied the title-role from Napoleon. Under the Restoration Jouy consistently fought for the cause of freedom, and if his work was overrated by his contemporaries, they were probably influenced by their respect for the author himself. He died in rooms set apart for his use in the palace of St Germain- enLaye on the 4th of September 1846.

Out of the long list of his operas, tragedies and miscellaneous writings may be mentioned, Fernand Cortez (1809), opera, in collaboration with J. E. Esm6nard, music by Spontini; Tippo Saib, tragedy (1813); Belisaire, tragedy (1818); Les Hermites en prison (1823), written in collaboration with Antoine Jay, like himself a political prisoner; Guillaume Tell (1829), with Hippolyte Bis, for the music of Rossini. Jouy was also one of the founders of the Biographic nomielle des contemporains.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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